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  1. 2011 Oct 11

    Husker Heartbeat 10/11: Bo Pelini's Presser Strategy, Burkhead Smiling Bigger and Can Henery Rebound?


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Maybe Bo Pelini knew what he was doing during the Ohio State post-game press conference

    - Did the Huskers pull off the king of all comebacks versus OSU?

    - Four Nebraska football players were honored for their play in the Huskers 34-27 victory over Ohio State

    - Rex Burkhead and fellow Team Jack members everywhere are wearing big smiles

    - Can former Nebraska kicker Alex Henery rebound from two key misses?

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    Tags: bo pelini, rex burkhead, alex henery

  2. 2011 Sep 11

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Fresno State


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - For those of you making Tim Beck/Shawn Watson comparisons, knock it off. Watson would’ve had Martinez throwing slant routes across the middle and handing the ball off to Burkhead in the second half as Nebraska either won by a point or lost.

    - Martinez clearly had his software from OSU 2010 reloaded at halftime, though.

    - Ameer Abdullah: So fast that he can cramp up at the opponent's 45 yard line and still can't be caught.

    - 41 tackles by Will Compton, Lavonte David and Daimion Stafford sounds impressive. Not so much when noted that none caused Fresno State to lose yardage.

    - Anxiously waiting for someone to argue why Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Kyler Reed shouldn’t be Nebraska’s main receivers. Kinnie’s close, but he’s battling his quarterback’s mechanics.

    - Guessing no Heard or Green was because of shift in offensive philosophy in the second half.

    - Derek Carr is much more talented than his brother and was good prep for Dan Persa/Northwestern.

    - Fresno gained almost five yards per rush. Forget Wisky for a moment and remember Washington’s Chris Polk.

    - Brett Maher nailed a 57-yarder in warm-ups. Was somewhat disappointed he didn’t kick that 62-yarder. Also wondering if Alex Henery wasn’t.

    - Burkhead leaping over a goal line pile only lends more credence to his "Superman" nickname. That and his Kryptonian birth certificate.

    - A 33-percent third down conversion rate doesn’t speak well about the entire offensive staff.

    - On the next episode of Ghost Hunters: Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith.

    - Daimion Stafford's going to be absolutely beastly once he hits midseason form.

    - Filed under “Kinda Funny”: Memorial Stadium erupting in cheers for Bo Pelini chewing a ref out.

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    Tags: tim beck, shawn watson, ameer abdullah, taylor martinez, will compton, lavonte david, daimion stafford, jamal turner, kenny bell, quincy enunwa, kyler reed, brandon kinnie, braylon heard, aaron green, derek carr, chris polk, brett maher, alex henery, rex burkhead, p, j, smith, courtey osborne, bo pelini

  3. 2011 Sep 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things to Watch For Versus UTC


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    Come Saturday, the moment so many have been waiting for will finally arrive – the kickoff of the 2011 Nebraska football season. The last few months have been filled with speculation. Whatever their questions may be, Nebraska fans will finally get some answers this Saturday. Let’s examine five key things to keep an eye on against the Mocs.

    1.) The Offensive Line

    For Nebraska, the season begins and ends with the offensive line. 2010 was a rollercoaster ride for the offensive linemen. In the first few games against the likes of Washington and Kansas State, Nebraska’s offensive line dominated. At times, flashes of the fabled "Pipeline" from the 1990s showed.

    Then Texas came to Lincoln and things changed in a hurry. A defensive switch by the Longhorns from the 4-3 alignment to the 3-4 left the Husker linemen scrambling. Every Nebraska opponent followed the blueprint that Texas had created. Playing defense from the 3-4 set could stop Nebraska cold.

    In 2011, Nebraska looks to overcome the struggles of the past. Bo Pelini brought on former Huskers John Garrison and Brendan Stai to aid Barney Cotton in an assistant coach and intern capacity, respectively. This combination of coaches will look to transform their linemen into not only a powerful unit, but one that can rely on depth and adjust to defensive changes.

    Nebraska will need to prove that the offensive line can remain dominant or Big Ten coaches will happily mirror the actions of the Big Red’s 2010 opposition.

    2.) Taylor Martinez

    Frequent speculation this offseason has been whether or not the “T-Magic” that shredded defenses through the first half of the 2010 will return. Never afraid to make snap decisions, Martinez led Nebraska through the first half of last year putting up impressive numbers.

    Unfortunately, injuries would stall Martinez’s stellar season, as Cody Green came in to assist. Martinez spent the latter half of the season trying to fight through injury, but what resulted was an inconsistent quarterback taking the field with a worrisome hobble in his step. 2010 quickly went from talk of Heisman candidacy to rampant rumors about his status with the team following the loss at Texas A&M.

    As of now, Martinez is believed to be healthy and back to where he was prior to last year’s opener against Western Kentucky. Head coach Bo Pelini believes that he has also matured and grown as a leader.

    Teammates are standing firmly behind the sophomore quarterback stating that he is now part of a faster offense that will be exciting to watch. The question still remains: Is Martinez really as good as advertised? He said it himself, “You’ll find out on September 3rd.”

    3.) Fumbles and Penalties

    Last year, the ability to hold onto the football was a challenge for the Huskers. Penalties plagued the team making it extremely difficult to convert drives into points. Nebraska’s offensive efforts often ended with nothing to show for them.

    Shocking stats dotted the 2010 stat sheets. The Cornhuskers had a staggering 46 fumbles in 14 games only recovering 16. Fumbling aside, penalty numbers were just as eye-popping.

    Last season, Nebraska was ranked No. 119 in penalties, averaging nearly 91 yards per game in yardage lost due to mental errors. Big 12 referees miffed at Nebraska’s departure can’t be blamed entirely for that number. Nebraska was ranked No. 104 in the nation during the 2008 season, Bo Pelini’s first as head coach.

    In 2011, it’s key for Nebraska to reverse the trend of mental mistakes if they want to achieve the goals they’ve made public. On Saturday, the Cornhuskers will show exactly what kind of game it intends to play. Will it be one plagued by dropped balls and pointless penalties or can ball security and clean, crisp play be the norm?

    4.) Kicking Specialists

    Since 2007, Nebraska hasn’t needed to worry about its kickers. It was all but guaranteed that Adi Kunalic would launch kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. It was a shock if Alex Henery didn’t convert every field goal, even from a distance of 60 yards.

    In 2011, the security blanket that was the duo of Henery and Kunalic are gone. The Cornhuskers are faced with a new set of specialists including one that Pelini believes has truly earned the job in Brett Maher

    Nebraska will be looking at P.J. Mangieri and Maher to take over for Kunalic and Henery. While those are some huge shoes to fill, the team is confident that both players can handle the pressure. On Saturday, Nebraska fans will find out if the new guys can even remotely replicate the success of their predecessors.

    5.) Memorial Stadium

    Nebraska students are out to “Take Back Game Day” on Saturday, but will this actually happen? In 2010, Memorial Stadium often sat quiet, choosing to sit over stand and clap over cheer.

    Those that would ask others standing and cheering to sit down and be quiet have been mocked repeatedly. On Saturday, Husker fans have the perfect opportunity to get some practice in themselves for when Big Ten opposition comes to town.

    While it will be hard to not be excited for Saturday’s season opener, can Nebraska’s fabled cathedral keep the excitement going for four quarters all year long? Hopefully Cornhusker fans will be doing their best to make the college football world aware that Nebraska is Big Ten title material complete with passionate fans.

    For Nebraska, this year is one of historic change. What sort of legacy will the Cornhuskers add to annals of Big Red lore? Come 2:30 PM on September 3, it’ll be time to find out.

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    Tags: taylor martinez, barney cotton, john garrison, brendan stai, adi kunalic, alex henery, brett maher

  4. 2011 Sep 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Taking Stock in the 2011 Cornhuskers - Bear Market


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Ryan Donohue

    2011 brings a new conference and new-look Huskers, but will this season provide a bull market-style return that most Big Red backers appear to be expecting or will Nebraska again be on the downturn and running with the bears as the season ends?

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Watching the Huskers ascend the preseason polls is getting difficult to watch. Since 1999, Nebraska hasn’t really won anything of note. Adapting to a brand new conference will make things difficult even with incredible talent. Ask the 1996 Husker squad. There are too many things that can – and will – go wrong.

    Adversity will test the Huskers just as much this year as it did last. Everyone is gunning for the new kid. Even teams like Northwestern and Minnesota will give Nebraska everything they’ve got.

    The brutality of the schedule lamented in January hasn’t changed. It looks even tougher. How can one expect back-to-back trips to the Big House and Happy Valley to be a cakewalk? They could easily be back-to-back losses. Ohio State could benefit from the same overhyping that Texas exploited last year. Iowa could be the perfect candidate to sour Senior Day.

    The season is only as reliable as Taylor Martinez’s health. It’s hard to imagine him not getting hurt again at some point in such a physical conference. Tim Beck can’t scheme Brion Carnes into a quarterback with any meaningful experience, merely hope for the best. The offensive load weighs heavily on Rex Burkhead who could have durability issues himself if he takes enough snaps.

    Even if the receivers prove themselves there has to be someone to throw them the ball efficiently. Offensive depth is still an issue. The line is young and injuries are inevitable. Perhaps the most severe difference between this year and last is the absence of Alex Henery. No longer can the nation’s most accurate kicker bail out the Big Red.

    The Huskers will have a respectable transition into the Big 10, but lose to teams they shouldn’t. The offense won’t crumble, but it will still spit and sputter. The defense might have its own injury issues and even when remarkably healthy, it can’t put enough points on the board to compensate for a sketchy offense and brutal schedule.

    Projected "Bear Market" regular season record: 8-4

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    Tags: taylor martinez, tim beck, rex burkhead, alex henery

  5. 2011 Aug 15

    Husker Heartbeat 8/15: Starling's Decision, a Defensive Duo and a Two-Sided Linemen


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - It's time for Bubba Starling to make his decision: Nebraska or the Kansas City Royals

    - Antonio Bell has been making the most of his switch to defense

    - Safety Austin Cassidy is proving his worth to the defense

    - Former Husker Henery makes a solid duo with former Florida Gator Chas Henry

    - The two sides of the NU line

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    Tags: bubba starling, alex henery, austin cassidy, antonio bell

  6. 2011 Feb 25

    Husker Heartbeat 2/25: Alex, RBs, Jeter, Teddy G and The Sea of Red


    By HuskerLocker

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    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Alex Henery doesn't change his personality one bit for the NFL Combine.

    *Credit where it's due: Good column from LJS Sipple on Lance Jeter. Also: Doc Sadler doesn't second-guess decisions on intentionally missed free throws.

    *Blake Lawrence - a former Husker who had to quit football because of concussion problems - explains why better equipment in football is necessary.

    *BRN wonders about the production from new running backs Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah. Good stuff. He writes:

    Ahman Green had 153 touches as a true freshman in 1995. DeAngelo Evans had 160 a year later. But they earned those opportunities. So if Aaron Green and Abdullah are going to be impact players for 2011, it will be because they earn it. History tells us that the carries can be very limited, even with a lack of veteran experience in front of them.

    *Teddy G wants some More Kiffin.

    *Dennis Dodd ranks Memorial Stadium No. 7 on his best stadiums list. He gives the fans at NU a 8.5 out of 10 ranking. The only fans on his list to get a "10" are Florida, Auburn, Alabama and LSU. This, from a guy who's lived in the Midwest for a long time and graduated from Mizzou. Boy, people sure do drink the SEC Kool-Aid, huh?

    Tags: husker heartbeat, alex henery, aaron green, ameer abdullah, ted gilmore, more kiffin, blake lawrence, ljs sipple

  7. 2011 Jan 27

    Husker Heartbeat 1/27: Corn Fed, Suh, Alex and Joe


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Applause to The Wiz of Odds - which dug deeper into the Casey Martinez/Corn Fed story than the local media dared to try. NU ended its relationship with Corn Fed when the the Wiz discovered it was Taylor, not Casey, who owned the trademark of Corn Fed.

    *LJS Sipple writes an excellent column on the marketing potential of Ndamukong Suh. It's big, no question. Suh's biggest strength is a natural humility that will serve him well throughout his career.

    *SI's Andy Staples shines a greater light on oversigning in the SEC. Good. Maybe the NCAA will start to budge on this issue.

    *More cool analysis on how recruiting star rankings generally reflect success for teams - although part 3 of the series suggests maybe the difference between 3 and 4 star players and teams are overrated.

    *Brutal offseason workouts put 13 Iowa players in the hospital with burning muscles and discolored urine. Their kidneys got screwed up.

    One Iowa player said he had to squat 240 pounds 100 times. That's 24000 pounds. And it's timed. And that's pretty stupid.

    Folks, it just is.

    *Alex Henery goes through fewer auditions at the Senior Bowl than most of his former Husker teammates.

    *Once upon a time, Joe Moglia helped stop Nebraska's Scoring Machine from winning a national title in the 1984 Orange Bowl.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, taylor martinez, joe moglia, alex henery, iowa, ndamukong suh big ten

  8. 2011 Jan 17

    Husker Heartbeat 1/17: Alex, Ameer, Big Ten, More Kiffin, and the Giant Lego Horseshoe


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Teddy G talks recruiting with two weeks to go. Nebraska wants four more prospects, looks like.

    *The OWH's Dirk Chatelain ganders at the Big Ten in 2011.

    League standings
    Top Ten Lists

    We'll get there after spring ball, and then again in the summer.

    *Tom Shatel, meanwhile, looks at how the Big Ten will use Nebraska as a [url=http://www.omaha.com/article/20110115/SPORTS/799999930]key weapon
    in the arms race with the SEC.

    *Alex Henery will take his kicking skills to the NFL. Considering the kicks missed so far in the NFL Playoffs, he should land a starting job immediately.

    *The newest recruit on Nebraska's radar, Ameer Abdullah, loved his Husker visit.

    *The Wiz of Odds finds another cheap shot from the Sugar Bowl.

    *The Ten Best Games of 2010, according to Dr. Saturday.

    *Behold the giant Lego Horseshoe.

    *People remain really weird in Tennessee.

    *LSU fires its offensive coordinator.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, alex henery, recruiting, ameer abdullah, ted gilmore, tom shatel, big ten, ohio state

  9. 2011 Jan 14

    Husker Heartbeat 1/14: Niles, Rickey, Bowl TV Ratings, and Big Ten Big Boys


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Niles Paul has to polish his game to play in the NFL - but once he gets there - he can play anywhere, says position coach Ted Gilmore.

    *How good are offensive linemen in the Big Ten? Try on Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi for size. Husker fans take close note: Line play is what defines teams in the Great Lakes league. NU had better buckle its chin strap.

    *Milt Tenopir - the real author of one of Nebraska's best plays in 2010 - has a few more ideas for the Husker coaching staff - if they want to listen. We suspect they will.

    *The Novak Trophy is the final jewel in an impressive careerfrom Rickey Thenarse.

    *Ex-Iowa running back Brandon Wegher will walk on at Oklahoma.

    *Michigan won't be losing Denard Robinson.

    Bowl Ratings drop 9 percent from last year - thanks, in large part, to the BCS move to ESPN. For example: The Outback Bowl - televised on ABC - had better ratings than the Orange and Fiesta Bowls.

    The Holiday Bowl did pretty well - a 3.48 rating, just behind the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl - considering it was a rematch of a blowout, and the game was so poorly played by Nebraska. The Insight Bowl received a paltry 2.24 rating, although it had the biggest jump in ratings because the NFL Network previously televised it. The Alamo Bowl received a 2.84. Both bowl games technically moved ahead of the Holiday this year in terms of Big 12 slotting.

    Look at that lovely rating for the Gator Bowl - a Jan. 1 Michigan/Mississippi State game on ESPN2: 1.71.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, niles paul, alex henery, rickey thenarse, milt tenopir, big ten

  10. 2011 Jan 04

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The 5 Best Special Teams Plays


    By HuskerLocker

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    He gave us a pretty amazing ride, Alex Henery.

    The most accurate kicker in NCAA history was a self-taught tactician possessing ice-cold blood and a giant foot. We remember some of his best moments here – along with a couple of big returns and Adi's perfect day.

    The five best special teams plays of year:

    Boom-boom: Henery's best field goal of the year was a 53-yarder in the Big 12 Championship. He blasted the ball through the Cowboys' Stadium uprights with 10-15 yards to spare. A shame he never got that shot to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Henery finished 5-5 in Cowboys Stadium. He'll be back. Heck – maybe with the Cowboys.

    Henery in a Hurry: On 4th-and-8 from his own 22-yard line, Henery rolled out for a rugby kick and saw a big hole in Oklahoma State's punt return setup. So he took off for the first down, made it, and ran 27 yards before he was tackled. The play helped set up NU's first touchdown of the game.

    Adi is nails: On a day when Nebraska really needed it, Adi Kunalic delivered seven consecutive touchbacks against Missouri in a 31-17 win. The Tigers' dangerous kickoff return game never got a chance.

    A Hero in Hagg: The strangest – and possibly most spectacular – play of the year occurred at the end of the Nebraska-Texas game, as safety Eric Hagg, picked up a punt – kicked out of a field goal formation by the Longhorns – and raced 85 yards for a touchdown. Hagg wove his way through UT's traffic, got a couple key blocks and zoomed to the house for the score.

    Paul's Point and Martin's Mash: After enduring the worst game of his career vs. Texas, Niles Paul went to Stillwater needed to make a play. He did, returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. On the play, Eric Martin knocked out an Oklahoma State player with a high – but in our view legal – hit. He was subsequently suspended for it.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays

    Tags: year in review, eric hagg, alex henery, niles paul, adi kunalic

  11. 2011 Jan 03

    YEAR IN REVIEW: Highlights and Lowlights


    By HuskerLocker

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    Our big season-in-review commentary is yet to come at the end of the week. For now, we bring you the superlatives of the 2010 season. Highlights and lowlights. Enjoy. We'll have lots of year in review content this week:

    Offensive MVP: Quarterback Taylor Martinez. The numbers don't lie: When Martinez was healthy, he was T-Magic, and so was NU's offense. After he got hurt, he was T-Muggle, and the Huskers lost three of their last four with him starting the games and taking the majority of the snaps. As dynamic a runner at the quarterback position as any in Husker history, Martinez's acceleration and instincts killer slower, less disciplined defenses. But when defenses slowed down his zone read game and forced him to throw downfield in the Big 12 Championship and Washington games, he really struggled. Still, it's hard to argue that he's not the most “valuable” player on NU's offense in 2010. He clearly was. Should he have been? That's a different question. Runners-up: Rex Burkhead, Roy Helu.

    Defensive MVP: Linebacker Lavonte David. He stepped into a nearly impossible position: Starting his first major college football game just four weeks after he began practicing with Husker coaches watching. And yet David, a junior, did just that – spectacularly, setting the team's single-season tackle record. David's instincts in stopping the run were a major reason why NU could afford to have what amounted to six defensive backs on the field for most of the game. He struggled in pass coverage during a 20-13 loss to Texas, but improved as the season wore on. Linebacker could have been a disaster after injuries to Sean Fisher and Will Compton. David erased all those concerns. It was some feat. Runners-up: Prince Amukamara, Jared Crick, Eric Hagg

    Special Teams MVP: Kicker Alex Henery. It's not everyday that a kicker is the team's most popular player, as Henery was on Senior Day when the Memorial Stadium crowd cheered loudest for his introduction. It's not every day a kicker truly earns that distinction. But Henery – with his talent and his humility – really did.

    Best Individual Offensive Performance: Taylor Martinez, Oklahoma State. He accounted for 425 total yards and five touchdowns, and Nebraska needed every last ounce of both. On a day when the Blackshirts' tackling and coverage took a day off, Martinez bailed out the Huskers with one big play after another, especially in the passing department, as he threw for a career-high 311 yards. Martinez had a chance to go in the tank after OSU took its first lead late in the first half. But he answered instead with a two-minute touchdown drive. It was the moment when Martinez seemed capable of anything.

    Best Individual Defensive Performance: Eric Hagg, Washington. He didn't make a ton of plays in the game, but he made the two that counted – a perfectly timed interception in two-deep coverage, and a spectacular deflection of a sure completion in the second half (Hagg was beaten on this same play in the Holiday Bowl). It's one of the best defensive plays of the year in all of college football.

    Best Coaching Decision: Bo Pelini's daring call to replace both safeties, Rickey Thenarse and P.J. Smith, with Austin Cassidy. It was a wholesale switch right before NU's biggest game to that point: Missouri. Until the Holiday Bowl, Cassidy and Osborne played really well, tackling with force and nabbing key interceptions in the Iowa State game and the Big 12 Championship, respectively. It was a classic Bo move: Shift on the fly, and commit accordingly.

    Worst Coaching Decision: After Nebraska closed to 20-13 in the Texas game, Bo, with the full force of the Memorial Stadium crowd on his side, chose to try an onside kick despite having two timeouts to call and three minutes remaining. UT recovered deep in Husker territory, the air was sucked out of the crowd, and the defense never had a chance to pin Texas deep. An onside kick – even with Alex Henery booting it – is one of the lowest-percentage plays in college football.

    Best Win: 31-17 over Missouri. Nebraska pounced all over the previously-undefeated Tigers with a 24-point first quarter, then frustrated Mizzou's pass-happy defense with a “spinner” defense that included using walk-on Kevin Thomsen and two new starters at safety in Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne. NU adjusted to Martinez's injury by managing the game with quarterback Zac Lee. Helu set the single-game school rushing record with 307 yards. Simply put, the Huskers' best game from an execution and coaching perspective.

    Worst Loss: 9-6 to Texas A&M. Nebraska played worse vs. Washington. The loss to Texas and Oklahoma were more painful. But the Huskers – especially head coach Bo Pelini – lost control that nutty night in College Station, and we're not sure NU ever really recovered from the feeling of persecution and poor execution that night. Pelini melted down on the sideline, upbraiding referees and Martinez on national TV. The officials screwed the Huskers on a late-hit penalty that set up A&M's game-winning field goal, but we can't help but think Bo's management of the game contributed to that bad call.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights

    Tags: year in review, taylor martinez, lavonte david, eric hagg, alex henery, bo pelini, texas am game, holiday bowl, missouri game

  12. 2010 Dec 15

    NU/NFL Draft Rumblings


    By HuskerLocker

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    Out the corner of his eye – or perhaps in the back of his mind – of course Prince Amukamara has to pay a little attention. The AP and Sports Illustrated first-team All-American knows that several NFL Draft scouting services – whether you put stock into them or not – have the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder listed as a certain first-round pick.

    CBS Sports' NFLDraftScout.com tabs Amukamara as its No. 1 overall prospect. Mel Kiper has Amukamara at fifth on his latest Big Board. NFLDraftDog.com puts him at No. 6. ESPN's Scouts, Inc. ranks him No. 8.

    Pick any “guru” you wish, and the Prince is coming up with a healthy chunk of change. Presuming a work stoppage doesn't gum up the negotiation process.

    “I still hear people say where I'm projected of going,” the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year said Wednesday. “But I am not focused on it.”

    There's a Holiday Bowl still to play. Finals to finish. And, once the January hits, training to begin.

    He has an invite to the Jan. 29 Senior Bowl - the ESPN-televised, post-grad pony show that NFL scouts prefer to attend - as do several other Huskers, according to Amukamara: Roy Helu, Mike McNeill, Keith Williams and Niles Paul.

    Amukamara is the highest-ranked the of 12 or so NU seniors who could have a shot at the NFL in 2011 – or short of that, the UFL. NFLDraftScout ranks ten Huskers in its top 250 prospects – guys likely to be taken in the seven rounds of the April draft:

    Wide receiver Niles Paul (No. 56)
    Wide receiver/tight end Mike McNeill (No. 73)
    Defensive end Pierre Allen (No. 88)
    Running back Roy Helu (No. 109)
    Kicker Alex Henery (No. 151 and the No. 1 kicker)
    Safety Eric Hagg (No. 202)
    Guard Keith Williams (No. 210)
    Guard Ricky Henry (No. 239)
    Safety Dejon Gomes (No. 247)

    Out of the bunch, Hagg and Henery could be the most intriguing prospects.

    Hagg, a hybrid linebacker/safety in Nebraska's Peso defense, has a long, slender build – 6-2, 210 - that most resembles a wide receiver. He covers well enough to play defensive back but tackles running backs and wide receivers aggressively, too. Defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders has said more than once that if he was building a defense, he'd begin with Hagg.

    He just may not fit easily into a NFL position.

    “I think it kinda hinders me but it can help me at the same time,” Hagg said.

    NU's Team MVP said he has “no clue” where he might land in the Draft, or which teams would be interested. He said he'd talk to Husker defensive coaches in the upcoming weeks to figure it out.

    “It can give you anxiety attacks so I try not to think about it,” said Hagg, who admitted he takes a look at projections every now and then.

    Henery appeared unconcerned about his draft slot. Scheduled to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, he's a dual kicker/punter prospect with a 60-yard leg and uncanny accuracy.

    “They love him,” head coach Bo Pelini said of NFL scout

    He's almost too good; the few kickers taken in the upper rounds of the draft rarely turn out to be the best, although the Oakland Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski – a former first-rounder - remains one of Al Davis' better picks during the last 15 years. Most teams prefer to try out a glut of kickers, find the right free agent fit, and ride that guy until he gets a case of the shanks.

    “I won't worry about that process until after the bowl game,” Henery said with his usual calm. “I'll push it all until after the end of the year and not wonder 'What if?' It'll take care of itself.”

    Tags: nfl draft, prince amukamara, niles paul, mike mcneill, pierre allen, roy helu, alex henery, eric hagg, keith williams, ricky henry, dejon gomes

  13. 2010 Dec 15

    Podcast 12/15: All-American Boys


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: prince amukamara, alex henery, jared crick, lavonte david, eric hagg

  14. 2010 Dec 11

    Helu, Henery, Hagg Nab Husker Honors


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Nebraska's football team handed out its own awards Saturday at a banquet in Lincoln, with Roy Helu winning Offensive MVP, LaVonte David winning Defensive MVP, Alex Henery winning Special teams MVP and, in a bit of an upset, Eric Hagg winning overall Team MVP.

    The 2010 captains were Helu, Henery, Pierre Allen and Prince Amukamara.

    Henery won the Guy Chamberlain Award, presented annually to the Husker senior who exhibits the qualities of Nebraska All-American Guy Chamberlin. Safety Rickey Thenarse won the coveted Tom Novak award, presented to a Husker player who's had "had a successful Cornhusker career while overcoming odds and adversity."

    The full list of awards:

    Full List of Award Winners:
    2010 Team Captains— Roy Helu Jr. (Offensive), Prince Amukamara (Defensive), Pierre Allen (Defensive), Alex Henery (Special Teams)

    Team MVP – Eric Hagg
    Special Teams MVP – Alex Henery
    Offensive MVP – Roy Helu Jr.
    Defensive MVP – Lavonte David
    Guy Chamberlin Trophy- Alex Henery
    Tom Novak Trophy – Rickey Thenarse
    Fischer Native Son Award –Niles Paul
    Walk-on MVP – Joe Broekemeier
    Lifter of the Year – Rex Burkhead
    Character Award – Rex Burkhead, Eric Hagg, Thomas Grove
    Pat Clare Award – Ricky Henry
    Bobby Reynolds Award – Adi Kunalic
    Scout Team Offensive MVP – Kenny Bell, Yusef Wade
    Scout Team Defensive MVP – Colin McDermott
    Burnell Student Manager Scholarships – Tanner Dunbar and Paul Belz

    Get terrific deals for the Holiday Bowl!

    Tags: alex henery, roy helu, eric hagg, prince amukamara, pierre allen

  15. 2010 Dec 06

    Husker Monday Review - Big 12 Championship


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Since you're feeling absolutely lovely this morning, let me toss out this happy nugget to Husker fans: The combined 2010 record of Nebraska's 2011 Big Ten opponents was 64-32. That's eight 8-4 teams for those of you not capable of quick division.

    So there's that threshing machine to look forward to next year. Helluva housewarming. I'll bring the veggie tray.

    For now, I believe Richard III, via Shakespeare, said it best. Winter of our discontent and all that.

    NU's back. You bet, brother. Holiday! Don't celebrate! To play Rub-A-UDub. Three games against the damn Huskies, all in one year's tub.

    This one stings because this was the year. You know, I know, Bo knows. Pelini's coaching combined with Bill Callahan's best recruits made for a killer combo. Period. Beginning of the Bo Dynasty. RVSP to the Big Chip Soiree at least and Really Big Chip Soiree at most.

    The senior class is loaded with talent. You won't see a secondary that skilled and experienced in college football for the next five years. The schedule gods handed the Huskers a berth to Big 12 Championship on a platter. Shoot – NU lost two league games and still landed an invite to Dallas.

    You know what that would have earned Nebraska in the Big Ten this year? Fourth place.

    When Bo stood on that Holiday Bowl podium last year, holding a glass whale above his head, no doubt he felt like Ahab, with the scent of Mody Dick in his nostrils. Having just seen the Huskers beat a good Arizona team to a submissive pulp, he got a little chuffed. You know what he said, and I don't blame him one bit for saying it. He saw a vision of greatness unfold that night in San Diego, a three-hour ass-kicking, replete with a healthy Rex Burkhead and devilishly dangerous Niles Paul at wide receiver. He saw an offensive line that could maul a lil bit, a secondary from “The Matrix” and Alex Henery, amen.

    What happened? The Big 12 and Big Ten did, and 2010 will be remembered by Nebraska fans as the year NU got tarred and feathered by a corrupt league looking to bully the Huskers on their way out the door. When Texas Independence brings down the Big 12 in five years, revenge and a side of crow will be served.

    But that's not all that occurred. Somewhere between that Holiday Bowl game and Nebraska's season-opener vs. Western Kentucky, Bo drastically altered his vision of a winning offense. He chose to veer away from the Huskers' still-developing passing game and direct offensive coordinator Shawn Watson buy full shares in the zone read option, with a speedy wunderkind at the controls in Taylor Martinez.

    It is, thus far, the defining decision of Bo's career at NU. He handed the keys of a senior-laden team to a young, mercurial, close-mouthed Cali kid who frankly shunned the typical media and team-building responsibilities that most quarterbacks gladly – or at least obligingly - embrace.

    You saw it play out.

    Martinez was brilliant in September, and he saved Nebraska's hide at Oklahoma State. For a quarter, he played great vs. Missouri. When he was good, he was damn good. Like Irving Fryar running the zone read. But he was bad vs. Texas, and Nebraska lost. He was hurt at Texas A&M, and Nebraska lost. He was bad and hurt in the Big 12 Championship game, and Nebraska lost. He didn't talk after any of them. This is his team, remember - except after a loss. Watson said Martinez didn't answer questions Saturday night because he's a “competitor” and “really stung.”

    “I imagine he doesn't want to talk to anybody right now,” Watson said.

    And Burkhead - playing for the last time in his hometown, in front of family and friends – did? He has to sit on the podium and explain to reporters how he thought Martinez played?

    On with the review:

    Five Players We Loved

    Running back Rex Burkhead: Pretty terrific, again. The fumble wasn't his fault. It'll be a pleasure watching Burkhead grind away in the Big Ten. It's a league fit for his talents.

    Defensive tackle Jared Crick: Two sacks and several more uncalled holding penalties. He turned it on during the last half of 2010. But the Big Ten has better offensive lines than the Big 12, so I'm not sure he goes “Beast Mode” in 2011.

    Linebacker LaVonte David: After 17 tackles, Pelini said on his TV show - taped right after the game - that David “made a lot of mistakes.” Way to keep plugging the kid, Bo.

    Safety Dejon Gomes: Big stop on a fourth down play in the first half, plus his usual excellence everywhere else. Coming to a NFL team near the late rounds of the draft, in the form of a steal.

    Kicker Alex Henery: To paraphrase Eli Cash: How is Alex especially not a Lou Groza finalist? And how hard did Nebraska pimp the kid for postseason awards? Yeesh. If Kirk Herbsteit and Brent Musberger know the deal, how come the good folks in Palm Beach County – home of the Groza – don't? Hanging chads still on the ballots?

    I'll write it one more time so you folks at home can say it for fun: GuhraOzahhhh.

    Three Concerns

    Sloppy special teams: Gotta get that fake punt off on time. Plus, I'm not sure Nebraska's playing its very best athletes on the coverage units. Mr. No-Groza and Adi Kunalic won't be around to paper over some of the deficiencies on special teams next year.

    Crossed wires: It sure seemed like Watson called plays Saturday night that Martinez couldn't execute very well. Considering Martinez doesn't acknowledge the existence of check down receivers, I'm not sure what good it is having one flared out by the sideline, watching No. 3 get sacked.

    Mojo and morale: Nebraska's already proven it's much better than Washington, but proving it again will be more a chore, especially with Martinez at less than 100 percent. The Huskies have a whole month to get healthy and look at NU tape. Jake Locker will probably not make some of the same mistakes twice.

    Three Questions

    Does the staff stay intact through this month? Hard to say. Watson has reportedly interviewed at Vanderbilt according to ESPN's Bruce Feldman, while defensive coordinator Carl Pelini is reportedly in the running for some mid-major jobs. Both could vie for the Northern Illinois job that just opened up when NIU's coach headed to Minnesota. Both deserve their shots at a head coaching job, although Carl would be more at home in a mid-major job that focuses less on kissing the rear ends of boosters and more on his specialty: developing players.

    What really happened with the Insight Bowl? Bowls don't usually turn down TV hype and wads of cash for integrity, so, naturally, the Insight Bowl – which snubbed Missouri last year for Iowa State's fans – did precisely that this year. Makes total sense. What's the side deal here? Conferences are tied to bowl games, but they rarely have much influence. But, in this case, a Nebraska vs. Iowa matchup benefits almost solely the Big Ten. News flash: So will the Holiday Bowl. The talk certainly won't be about the game.

    Which of the scout team all-stars creates buzz during bowl prep? The one reason you don't turn down a bowl trip – Nebraska isn't likely to make much money on this little venture – is to get the three extra weeks of practice to prepare for next spring. Teams often use one of those weeks to start developing young guys for the future. Will Husker fans hear any buzz about Brion Carnes? Corey Cooper? Chase Rome?

    Tags: husker monday review, big 12 championship, bo pelini, taylor martinez, shawn watson, rex burkhead, alex henery, dejon gomes, lavonte david

  16. 2010 Dec 05

    BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP: Sooner Tragic


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Midway through the first quarter, the most accurate kicker in college football history, Nebraska's Alex Henery, blasted a 53-yard field goal so far through the uprights that it nearly cleared the net. How far might it have traveled? Sixty-five yards? Longer?

    The distance of that kick mocked the Huskers as they battled to tie Oklahoma in the fourth quarter of the Big 12 Championship. On four different drives, Nebraska only needed to march 30 yards or less to reach Henery's considerable range. Twice, the Huskers actually did, but on each possession, thanks to one disaster or another, they came up empty.

    Thus OU captured the crown and bragging rights, 23-20, as the Sooners overcame an early 17-0 deficit by chipping away at the Blackshirts, and letting the Huskers' offense systematically shoot itself in the foot with four turnovers and some of the worst sacks taken by a Nebraska quarterback in recent memory.

    That signal caller was redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez, whom head coach Bo Pelini selected five days before the Saturday's game in Arlington, Texas to start. Martinez, recovering from injuries to both of his feet, floundered in front of 78,810 fans at Cowboys Stadium. He threw an interception in OU's end zone, lost a fumble, and took seven sacks – many of them after five-counts of “Mississippi” and several opportunities to throw the ball away – that cost the Huskers points and field position.

    Martinez accounted for just 111 yards – he lost 32 on the ground – and threw behind, above and below several open receivers. When the Sooners took away his primary receiver on a given play, Martinez panicked in the pocket, his feet frozen in place, his eyes fixed on covered targets until a OU defender came crashing in to welp him on the shoulder, grab at his feet or strip him of the ball.

    “He gave great effort,” Pelini said. “There are some things he could have done better, obviously.”

    In total, NU (10-3) gained just 80 yards in the second half – most of that out of Wildcat formation plays run by Rex Burkhead. After taking a 20-17 halftime lead, Nebraska never got inside OU's 30-yard line in the final 30 minutes.

    Oklahoma (11-2) frittered away its chances, too, missing a field goal and watching two first-half drives stall in NU territory. But after the Huskers put the OU in a deep early hole with Roy Helu's 66-yard touchdown run, Henery's field goal and a Courtney Osborne interception that set up another touchdown, the Sooners and quarterback Landry Jones regrouped and began to carve up Nebraska's secondary for 342 passing yards.

    “You're not going to sit there and a hold a football team with those weapons to no points,” Pelini said.

    Jones hit Kenny Stills on a 49-yard score to cut NU's lead to 17-7. After a Helu fumble at Nebraska's 31, Jones found Stills again for a 30-yard gain that set up Jones' 1-yard sneak for a touchdown. That tied the game at 17. But Jones' best throw came in the second half, with the score tied 20-20, on a 3rd-and-24. He laced one to Cameron Kenney for 23 yards, which set up a successful fourth-down pass to Kenney one play later. Jimmy Stevens later made what turned out to be the game-winning field goal.

    Martinez had no such magic. His best play in the second half was as a lonely decoy in the Wildcat, which twice put Nebraska in field goal range. One drive ended when Rex Burkhead couldn't handle a bad snap from center Mike Caputo. The other drive – the one Husker fans aren't likely to forget – contained a particularly painful sequence.

    Burkhead had already thrown one touchdown pass, and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, at OU's 38-yard line, decided to dial up another. Burkhead faked to Tim Marlowe on a jet sweep and reared back to throw to Martinez, who was wide open on a deep post route. But Burkhead's protection broke down, and he had to heave it 20 yards wide of Martinez's course. Martinez still nearly caught it, but the ball fell incomplete.

    On 3rd-and-8 – still in Henery's range – Martinez took the snap and danced around in the pocket for five seconds before taking a sack.

    “You can't take a sack there,” Pelini said.

    That put NU back at midfield. Arguably still within Henery's range. An offsides penalty put the Huskers at OU's 45. That's a 62-yard field goal, in benign conditions, from a kicker who routinely makes them from 65 in warm-ups. The best and most accurate kicker in college football history.

    Pelini chose to punt. The gamble technically worked – Nebraska forced a Sooner punt and got one final possession – but Henery never got a chance to swing his prodigious leg for the leg

    “When you look back, I wish we would have,” Pelini said. “...If you kick it there and they have that kind of field position, the game's over.”

    Nebraska's final drive included another sack taken by Martinez and a fourth-down pass thrown behind Brandon Kinnie, who wasn't open on the quick slant anyway. OU ran out the clock for the victory.

    Too many miscues.

    “We just did too many things out there to overcome and beat a good football team,” Pelini said. “We put the football on the ground too many times, we lost the turnover battle and we took some sacks in some big situations.”

    The first half of the final Big 12 Championship had everything: Big plays, bonehead errors, daring coaching decisions and overturned calls.

    On OU's second drive of the game, Stoops elected to go for it on 4th-and-5 at the Nebraska 34, but OU Jones, pressured by NU defensive tackle Jared Crick, stumbled before he reached the line of scrimmage. The Huskers took over and Helu dialed up one of his long-distance specials.

    It was the same play NU ran to score its opening touchdown vs. Mizzou, except that Helu didn't follow Ben Cotton's kick block; he cut back against it as left guard Keith Williams blocked two different Sooners. Helu gained five yards, then changed direction and accelerated, outrunning every OU defender for a 66-yard touchdown.

    Nebraska forced a punt on the Sooners' next drive; Tim Marlowe returned the punt to Sooner territory, which set up Henery's 53-yard field goal that rocketed through the uprights with plenty of air to spare.

    The teams traded punts. Then OU, operating out of its “diamond” formation, drove to the Husker 25. Again, Stoops faced a fourth down. Again, he elected to go for it. But NU safety Dejon Gomes knifed in to stop Sooner running back Roy Finch at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

    In the second quarter, Courtney Osborne intercepted a deflected pass and returned it to the OU 12. He fumbled, but instant replay officials ruled his knee was down. The Huskers took a 17-0 lead two plays later when Burkhead threw back across his body for a five-yard touchdown pass to Kyler Reed.

    Oklahoma, stumped and smothered until that moment, stormed back

    Jones hit Murray for 12 yards. Murray gained 19 yards on two runs. From NU's 49, Jones then faked to running back Roy Finch and found wide receiver Kenny Stills streaking behind Husker safety Austin Cassidy for a 49-yard touchdown, cutting Nebraska's lead to 17-7.

    Nebraska mounted an eight-play drive as a retort, highlighted by Martinez's 37-yard bootleg pass to Mike McNeill on 4th-and-1. But Martinez overthrew McNeill in the end zone, then tossed an interception as he vainly tried to find Brandon Kinnie in the back of the end zone. Travis Lewis – who once verbally committed to NU before switching to OU on Signing Day – made the pick. He would later recover two fumbles, as well.

    Oklahoma converted the interception into a field goal after driving to the Huskers' 9-yard line. OU finally converted a fourth-down play with a Jones 16-yard bootleg inside NU territory.

    Nebraska handed the Sooners its next touchdown when Helu fumbled at Lewis recovered at the NU 31. On OU's first play, Jones, unfettered by the Huskers' soft pass rush, found Stills on a slant for a 30-yard gain; Still beat NU corner Alfonzo Dennard on a double move. Jones sneaked in for a 1-yard touchdown on the next play.

    NU didn't limp into halftime, though. Burkhead ripped off a 26-yard run. Then Martinez hit receiver Brandon Kinnie on a slant pattern and Reed on a skinny post to set up Henery's 42-yard field goal just before the gun.

    Tags: taylor martinez, bo pelini, alex henery, big 12 championship

  17. 2010 Dec 02

    Alex Gets His Due!


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Finally, Nebraska kicker Alex Henery - poised to become the most accurate kicker in college football history - was acknowledged as the best kicker in the Big 12 Thursday by 20 sportswriters who cover the league and submitted their votes to the Associated Press.

    Henery made 15 of 16 field goals this year. He didn't miss an extra point. His other career stats:

    *He's made 89.2% of his career field goal attempts (66-of-74). The NCAA record is 87.8% by Florida’s Bobby Raymond.

    *He's made 77.4% of his career field goals from 40 yards or longer (24-of-31). The NCAA career record is 72.1% by Georgia’s Billy Bennet.

    *He's made 97.7% of his career field goals from inside 40 yards (42-of-43). The NCAA career record is 97.0% by Florida’s Bobby Raymond.

    *He's tied for the NCAA record with six career games with at least four field goals.

    *He's made 256 of his 265 career kicks (extra points and field goals), a 96.6% accuracy rate. The NCAA FBS career record is 94.9% set by Missouri’s Jeff Wolfert.

    (Huskers Gameday compiled this list here.)

    Despite those numbers, Henery was not a Groza finalist, nor did he make the Big 12 Coaches' first team. Both of those spots went to Oklahoma State's Dan Bailey, who only made 22-of-26 field goals this year.

    Other Huskers also making the AP's first-team All-Big 12 squad were: Cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker LaVonte David, Peso Eric Hagg and guard Ricky Henry.

    NU and OSU led the way with six players each on the first teams. Wednesday, the AP announced that Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez and David were named Big 12 Offensive and Defensive Newcomers of the Year.

    See also: All-Time NU-OU Team

    Tags: alex henery, big 12, lavonte david, prince amukamara, jared crick, taylor martinez, eric hagg, ricky henry

  18. 2010 Dec 01

    Husker Heartbeat 12/1: Rex and Alex


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Dan Beebe finally goes to the cops with the death threats allegedly made by NU fans.

    *Alex Henery won't have a hard time finding a job in the NFL.

    *The Deeper Story told by the All-Big 12 team.

    *An awesome poster for the Nebraska-Oklahoma game.

    *How the Huskers win - regardless of who plays quarterback.

    *The LJS has five things you need to know about the NU-OU rivalry.

    *How Rex Burkhead has become a key weapon in NU's offense.

    *Oklahoma's defense is playing, well, better. Not as great as this article would like you to believe, but better.

    *Since Nebraska will still have a championship game after this year, the pros and cons of it.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, rex burkhead, alex henery, big 12 championship, dan beebe

  19. 2010 Nov 30

    Huskers Clean Up in Big 12 Awards


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Even if the Big 12 office seems primed to slight the Nebraska football team at every turn, the league coaches Tuesday more than took care of the Cornhuskers – with the noted exception of kicker/punter Alex Henery - with the release of the All-Big 12 awards.

    Six Huskers made the All-Big 12 first team: Defensive end Pierre Allen, cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker LaVonte David, Peso Eric Hagg and offensive guard Ricky Henry. Five Huskers – including Henery – landed on the second team. Six more were named to the honorable-mention squad.

    In a nod to his sheer dominance - without the usual statistics to back it up - Amukamara won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year despite not catching an interception this year. Opposing teams only dared throw toward him 45 times this year, completing just seven passes. Amukamara had 13 pass break-ups, too. He's only the second cornerback to win the award – Kansas State's Terrence Newman won in 2002 – and the third Husker overall after defensive end Grant Wistrom (who won in 1996 and 1997) and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (who won in 2009).

    Amukamara beat preseason favorite, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who finished the season leading the Big 12 in sacks.

    David won Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. David finished with 128 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and 10 pass break-ups. Quarterback Taylor Martinez won Offensive Freshman of the Year despite missing the equivalent of two league games. Martinez amassed 2,409 yards in just 297 plays.

    On the Big 12's second team, Henery was named both the punter and the kicker. OSU's Dan Bailey beat Henery for Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team kicker despite Henery having a better field-goal percentage for the season and his career. Henery is poised to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. Running back Roy Helu, defensive end Cameron Meredith, defensive back Alfonzo Dennard, and wide receiver/kick returner Niles Paul joined Henery on the second team.

    Huskers named to the honorable-mention bunch were: Running back Rex Burkhead, center Mike Caputo, defensive back Dejon Gomes, Martinez, defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler and offensive lineman Keith Williams.

    Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy won Coach of the Year, while OSU receiver Justin Blackmon unsurprisingly won Offensive Player of the Year. Colorado's Nate Solder won Offensive Lineman of the Year while Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal won Defensive Lineman of the Year.

    Every Big 12 team was represented on the first or second team except Kansas, which had a scant three players named honorable mention.

    Tags: big 12, prince amukamara, lavonte david, taylor martinez, ricky henry, pierre allen, jared crick, alex henery, dejon gomes, alfonzo dennard, keith williams, mike caputo, rex burkhead, eric hagg, roy helu, niles paul

  20. 2010 Nov 25

    Five Keys: CU


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

    -Robert Frost, “The Death of the Hired Man”

    And so it boils down to this: After arguably the toughest week of his short career in Lincoln, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini must deliver a Big 12 North title on Senior Day without two of his biggest offensive weapons - Taylor Martinez and Niles Paul - amidst feelings that the Big 12 badly wants NU to fail against a suddenly hot, motivated Colorado team.

    A game that looked like a shoo-in two weeks ago suddenly seems like a “please don't blow it” moment.

    The biggest advantage Bo will have: That Memorial Stadium crowd.

    He won't find the Husker faithful “dead” on Friday, that's for sure. The fans feel threatened on all sides – by the league, by injuries, by the press – and they'll respond, I have a hunch, with one of their ear-ringing efforts on a blustery cold day. Home has been a relatively unkind joint to NU at several points in the last two years, but it'll be a primary advantage vs. the Buffaloes, who haven't played on the road in three weeks.

    It doesn't have to be pretty on Friday. Husker fans can still have their pitchforks ready for whatever offensive coach they'd like to blame for an ugly performance. It just has to count toward Dallas.

    On to the keys, quickly on this Friday morning:

    Green team: No smoke, mirrors or whispers: Cody Green is the guy on Friday. Indisputably. And whatever offense best suits his talents, those are the plays that offensive coordinator Shawn Watson should call. This isn't about Green fitting into a long-term template of Bo's “vision.” This isn't about trying to show off Green's talents for next year, either. This is about calling plays that gain yards, make first downs and score points. Period. If that means putting Green in the shotgun and running a spread offense, do it. And don't flirt with putting Martinez or Zac Lee in there, either. Those guys are both well below 100 percent. Bottom line: Nebraska needs to win with its backup.

    Trenches: In size and athleticism, Colorado's offensive and defensive lines actually match up favorably with the Huskers. It's not a battle Nebraska's going to automatically win just by showing up. Can NU's offensive line carve out some early holes in the Buffaloes' defense? Can the defensive hold off getting gashed by CU's power running game?

    The Specials: Asking some of the seniors this week for their favorite memories this week, Alex Henery's 57-yard field goal to help beat Colorado in 2008 frequently came up. And why shouldn't it? Henery, a senior himself, is one of the most popular and toughest-minded Huskers on the team. CU kicker Aric Goodman, who's missed 22 field goals in his career, is, shall we say, not. NU has a huge advantage in this department that will be hard for the Buffaloes to overcome.

    Heat: CU quarterback Cody Hawkins may be playing the best football of his career, freed from the onus of having to win for dear old Dad, but he's still susceptible to a pass rush. While the Buffaloes' offensive line can protect him, Hawkins still needs to move the pocket to see receivers. Look for the Brothers Pelini to get creative with their blitz packages. Forcing Hawkins into the mistakes he's made throughout his career is the quickest way to an easy victory.

    Electric Zoo: Memorial Stadium will be bubbling with energy and excitement, in part because Bo issued the challenge two weeks ago, in part because athletic director Tom Osborne issued another one this week via letter, and in part because the crowd can actually have a division title to celebrate afterward. Plus – since when did Nebraska fans have any lost love for Colorado?

    Tags: cu game, five keys, cody green, alex henery, memorial stadium, shawn watson

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